ICAS has suggested in a letter to members that the communications and technology changes reshaping accounting may be ‘too much to contemplate’ for those over 50.
Auto enrolment, FRS 102 and HMRC’s digital drive were all stated as factors which prompted the Scottish chartered accountants’ body to offer support to its members. In particular, ICAS singled out the 58% of practitioners who are over 50.
The letter goes on to state that rather than adapt to the changes, they may convince this age bracket that “handing on to the next generation” is the best option.
Mark Howitt, who shared the ‘the only constant is change’ letter on Linkedin and Twitter, told AccountingWEB: “the whole thing strikes me as astonishing... it seems like a bit of a blunder all round.”
— Mark (@Pilrig74) February 13, 2016
While the letter made allusions to people over 50 being unable to deal with technology, the person who signed the letter falls into the over 50 age bracket, as does the president and chief exec of ICAS. “There should have been some review process before the letter was sent out,” said Howitt.
ICAS launched its ‘Love Accounting’ campaign the day before Howitt received the letter. The campaign supports young people from disadvantaged communities, directing them into studying accounting at university. The Love Accounting advertisement supporting the ICAS Foundation shows a student in a library with the quote, ‘this is the first time anyone has believed in me,’
“I find it bizarre that the next day they fire a letter to everyone over the age of 50 saying we don’t believe in you,” said Howitt, who is the finance manager at Project Scotland, a charity that works with 18-30 year olds.
Howitt argued that the legislation changes which the letter calls “forceful and overwhelming” would be better handled and embraced by an accountant with experience.
Despite the letter, the technology changes are not proving too much for Howitt, who on the morning AccountingWEB spoke with him had advised a student at a nearby university about accounting’s move to cloud software as part of her dissertation.
AccountingWEB members reacted in a similar way to Howitt’s when asked on Any Answers about the professions’ growing tech demands. The Kent Accountant said: “Come on, unless we're talking about old school dinosaur accountants, most accountants are dealing with 'tech' sufficiently well for their client's needs”.
The ICAS Practice support’s aim with the letter was to promote their mergers and acquisition service and to initiate businesses implementing succession plans.
ICAS has told AccountingWEB that they will soon be issuing a follow-up communication to relevant members. They stressed that it was never their intention to offend members but they were mindful to offer support with the upcoming changes.
Are you over 50? Will the upcoming changes in technology and legislation be too much for you to contemplate? Let us know your views below.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.